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n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die semiosis van die (on)natuurlike en die (ab)normale : oor verwondering en onttowering in die kognitiefsemantiese definiëring van die kategorie - : navorsings- en oorsigartikel

Volume 51, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

Daston (1998) sluit haar makronarratief van die opkoms en val van die kategorieë van die (on)-natuurlike en die (ab)normale tussen die Vroegmoderne periode en die Wetenskaplike Rewolusie af met die opmerking dat die geldigheid daarvan nog aan mikronarratiewe getoets moet word. Die hoofdoel van hierdie artikel is om aan te dui watter lig twee minder bekende tekste uit die korpus Nederlandse natuurhistoriese tekste op hierdie kwessie werp. Die fokus val op hoe Adriaen Coenen (1514-1587) hierdie kategorieë kon gekonseptualiseer het op basis van sy visensiklopedie (1577-1579). Sy empiriese ontologie en epistemologie maak volgens Florike Egmond en Peter Mason (cf. Egmond & Mason 1992, 2000) van Coenen 'n voorloper van die epistemiese oorgang van die Vroegmoderne periode en die Wetenskaplike Rewolusie. In hierdie artikel word aangetoon dat, alhoewel Coenen nie soos sy Middeleeuse voorgangers hierdie kategorieë op emblematiese wyse benader het nie, hy nogtans die natuur as "boek" gelees het waarin die Skepper Hom aan die mensdom openbaar. Om hierdie aansluiting by sy voorgangers duidelik te maak, word daar 'n ontleding aangebied van die eerste bestiarium in Nederlands, naamlik Jacob van Maerlant se (ca. 1270). Die interpretasieproses (semiosis) word uiteengesit en daar word aangedui hoe die relevante kategorieë gedefinieer is teen die Groot Ketting van Bestaan, 'n teorie van die essensie van kategorieë en die "plaaslik-lokale" religieuse, morele, estetiese waardes, ens. van Van Maerlant se teikengehoor. In die ontleding van word daar aangetoon hoe Coenen op meerdere epistemologiese strategieë gesteun het by die interpretasie van die betrokke kategorieë. Hy was deeglik daarvan bewus dat prioritisering van sig allerlei gevare ingehou het omdat ook die duiwel mense se interpretasie van natuurkategorieë kon bepaal. Die slotsom van die artikel is dat in die epistemiese oorgang van een periode in die geskiedenis na 'n ander meerdere en komplekse ontologiese en epistemologiese uitgangspunte die wêreldbeskouing van 'n individu kan bepaal en dat die besondere konseptualisering van die (on)-natuurlike, (ab)normale en wonderlike in diens staan van die poging om sin te maak van die kategorie MENS.


Daston (1998) concludes her macronarrative of the rise and fall of the categories of the natural and unnatural between the Early Modern Period and the Scientific Revolution (1500-1700) with the remark that this narrative should be supplemented with local conceptions (i.e. micronarratives) of these categories.
The main goal of this article is to indicate what contribution two works within the neglected corpus of Dutch natural histories can make to "fill in" the local details of such a macronarrative. The focus falls on how Adriaen Coenen (1514-1587) could have perceived these categories as evidenced by his marine encyclopaedia (""; 1577-1579). Florike Egmond and Peter Mason (cf. Egmond & Mason 1992, 2000) have indicated that Coenen prioritised an empirical epistemological approach to the (un)natural and (ab)normal, and not an emblematic one such as his forerunners of the bestiary tradition of the Dutch Middle Ages. Egmond and Mason therefore conclude that Coenen should be seen as a forerunner of the Early Modern Period of the Scientific Revolution. As is argued in this article, although Coenen did not have an emblematic world view (as defined for example by Ashworth 1990), he did read nature as a "book" (general revelation) to determine what it revealed about God to humankind.
To place Coenen's epistemological and ontological perspectives on these categories in the right perspective, an analysis is provided in Section 3 of the typical bestiary approach as evidenced in the first bestiary in Dutch, namely Jacob van Maerlant's ("") (ca.1270). The focus falls on Van Maerlant's treatment of the (un)natural, the (ab)normal and the wonderful in God's creation. Entries from are provided to debunk the myth that natural historians of the bestiary tradition had no regard for the materiality of objects but simply tried to fathom their symbolical meanings. The process of "interpreting" the semantic layers of natural-kind categories is discussed in line with the theoretical approach outlined in Section 2 of this article, namely the semiological, hermeneutic and cognitive semantic aspects of the semiosis of categories. It is indicated how the categories of the (un)natural, (ab)normal and wonderful are defined relative to the hierarchy inherent in the Great Chain of Being, its associated theory of the essences of kinds, and local, temporal and culture-specific sets of, for example, religious, moral, and aesthetic values.
Adriaen Coenen's epistemological and ontological approach in to the categories under discussion are discussed in more depth in Section 4. Despite the fact that he prioritised an empirical epistemology, it is also indicated that Coenen relies on a number of epistemological strategies: the principle of auctoritas (like his forerunners from the Middle Ages) and simple referential procedures. He also acknowledges the fact that the evidence of vision itself could be highly fallible, and that whatever interpretations one may make of natural categories they could also be the work of the devil himself.
Obsessed with all that is strange and wonderful, Coenen devotes a number of the articles in his "encyclopaedia" to monsters of all kinds, also stressing their role as "warnings from God". Above all, is evidence of Coenen's ability to see in nature how God, as almighty Creator, reveals himself to man. The final conclusion is that the hypothesised macronarrative of (clear) epistemic breaks between historical periods does not hold up when one analyses micronarratives such as that of Van Maerlant's and Coenen's . In the cross-over from one period to the other (Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period and the Scientific Revolution) a variety of ontological and epistemological positions were possible, all positions finally aimed at trying to fathom the category HUMANKIND.

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/content/akgees/51/4/EJC20251
2011-12-01
2019-08-21

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